The proper design and construction of laboratory facilities contributes to the protection of all laboratory workers and provides a barrier that protects the community from TB aerosols that may be created with the laboratory. Specific features of the laboratory, including separated laboratory areas and a ventilation system, are secondary containment measures. The secondary barriers that are recommended for a laboratory depend on the procedures conducted and their associated risk of transmission.
In a low-risk TB laboratory, secondary barriers include separating the laboratory’s work area from the public, ensuring proper waste disposal, and providing hand washing facilities. In a high-risk TB laboratory, the presence of an anteroom separating the laboratory from public areas serves as an additional secondary barrier.
Laboratory managers are responsible for providing facilities commensurate with the laboratory’s functions and risk level.
When designing a TB laboratory, special attention should be paid to common issues that are known to pose safety problems, including the use of permeable surfaces, overcrowding in work areas, the ability of unauthorized people to enter the laboratory, the flow of personnel and patients near or inside the laboratory, and poorly designed workflow.
The following list identifies the basic recommended design features of a TB laboratory.
- Adequate ventilation and directional airflow are required.
- Ample space must be provided for the safe conduct of laboratory work, and for cleaning and maintenance.
- Walls, ceilings and floors should be smooth and easy to clean. Floors should be slip-resistant.
- Bench tops should be impervious to water, and resistant to the chemicals and disinfectants normally used in the laboratory; they should also be impervious to moderate heat.
- Illumination should be adequate for all activities. Undesirable reflections and glare should be avoided. Curtains must not be used.
- Laboratory furniture should be sturdy. Furniture should be made of impervious materials and able to be decontaminated easily. No cloth-covered furniture should be used.
- Open spaces between and under benches, cabinets and equipment should be accessible for cleaning.
- Storage space must be adequate to hold supplies for immediate use and prevent clutter on bench tops and in corridors outside the laboratory. Additional space for long-term storage should be provided and located conveniently outside work areas.
- An area for the safe preparation, handling and storage of acids, stains and solvents should be established.
- Facilities for storing outer garments and personal items should be provided outside work areas.
- Facilities for eating and drinking, and for rest, should be provided outside work areas.
- A sink for handwashing and soap should be provided in each room in the laboratory, preferably near the exit. Automated or handsfree taps are recommended. A dispenser for paper towels should be near the sink.
- Laboratory doors should have a glass window panel and appropriate fi re ratings; they should be self-closing.
- There should be a reliable and adequate electricity supply.